WHAT IS IT?
“EQI” is an acronym for Eccentric Quasi-Isometric. In lay terms, this is a technique that starts with a quasi-isometric hold (i.e. isohold) in a mechanically advantageous portion of a rep. When the hold can no longer be maintained, the eccentric should be performed as slow as possible and with maximum control/resistance until the terminal end-point of the ROM. Once in the loaded stretch, that should also be held for as long as possible while actively contracting the opposing muscles. Clearly, this isn’t for the faint of heart.
HOW TO TRACK PROGRESSION?
Progression with EQIs is going to be much more qualitative than quantitative which means it will be harder to tangibly track. For data purposes, total load used will be the primary method, followed by time in the QI hold, the eccentric and the loaded stretch.
WHO SHOULD USE IT?
EQIs are exclusively for advanced athletes! Within this population, those with subtle-but-not-restrictive mobility limitations will be able to find the most benefit from EQIs beyond the hypertrophic response.
WHO SHOULD NOT USE IT?
Anyone who is not an advanced athlete (i.e. 5+ years of training, proficient in all lifts, able to accurately judge intensity, etc) should steer clear of EQIs and would be better served utilizing a regressed loaded stretching technique. Even those who are advanced should mind the contraindications of EQIs: soft tissue injuries (strains, tears, etc), poor recovery capabilities, and severe mobility restrictions.
WHEN TO USE IT?
EQIs should only be used during times of caloric surplus and when recovery resources are high. Deep off-seasons for competitors would be the ideal time to implement a cycle of EQIs to promote rapid increases in growth, strength and mobility. Within a single training session, EQIs should be done towards the end of the workout so as to not unnecessarily pre-exhaust.
WHEN NOT TO USE IT?
When there are inherent limitations on recoverability (i.e. contest prep, meet prep, in-season athletes, etc), EQIs will be contraindicated due to the extreme demands places on soft tissues and the nervous system. EQIs are also contraindicated any time fatigue is actively being managed or suppressed (such as deloads, active recovery phases, etc).
HOW TO USE IT?
Because of the extremely demanding phases of EQIs (the QI, eccentric, and loaded stretch), the exercises used and specifications required will have to be equally refined. The most obvious starting point is that the desired exercise must actually contain each phase (with clear distinctions) and allow the trainee to exhibit control over them. Machine-based and bodyweight movements seem to be the best bets here. Beyond that, the targeted muscle groups and joints must have somewhat arbitrary lengthened states/end-points to allow the loaded stretch to have full effect.
Depending on the implementation goal of the EQIs, they can be done as a stand-alone “set” or as a post-set intensifier. For the former, the load used will have to be MUCH greater to properly stress the “QI” and “E” phases (generally, ~1.2-1.5x that of the intensifier weight would be a rough estimate). Some popular recommendations for TOTAL time (i.e. adding up each phase) are to aim for ~3 minutes per EQI, though I tend to think this is somewhat of an overkill. Anecdotally, it would seem that aiming for a ~15-30 sec QI, ~10-20 sec eccentric, and a 60-90 sec loaded stretch would be more than sufficient to create the desired stimulus. Due to the neuromuscular impact caused by EQIs, only ~1-2 per session for a given exercise/muscle group is needed to optimize the SFR (stimulus to fatigue ratio).
1)Weighted Pull-Ups- Performed TWICE after sets to failure in the ~5-8 rep range; The QI would be started in the mid portion of the rep with arms at ~90º flexion.
2)Deficit Push-Ups- Performed ONCE as a standalone by adding +90lbs to the back; Hands would be elevated enough to allow for a max stretch; The QI would start at ~2/3 of lockout.
3)Machine Chest Press- Performed TWICE after sets to failure in the ~8-10 rep range; The machine would have to be designed in order to allow for a max stretch without bottoming out; The QI would start at ~2/3 of lockout.
HOW NOT TO USE IT?
There are certainly a lot of things that can go wrong with the implementations of EQIs, and many exercises will thus be contraindicated for one reason or another. The total time-under-tension immediately eliminates all variations with high axial loading, instability, and reliance on ancillary structures for support (i.e. grip). If the deepest portions of the lengthened/stretched state are inaccessible or improperly loaded, EQIs will not be able to exert their fullest effects—And this automatically excludes certain muscle groups entirely based on their intrinsic architectures.
There should also be a risk analysis done before any implementation of EQIs. There are very real (acute) injury and (chronic) overreaching concerns that should not be brushed off or overlooked.
1)Stiff Leg Deadlifts- The axial loading would immediately disqualify these even though the lengthened/stretch component would be satisfied
2)Lying Leg Curls- The knee joint architecture prevents full lengthening of the hamstrings even when fully extended and relaxed
3)Flat DB Flyes- Despite this movement being well suited for the lengthening and stretch, the stress placed on the biceps/pec tendons will create a poor risk/reward for EQIs. A better alternative would be Pec Deck but would still potentially be too risky.
BENEFITS OF THE TECHNIQUE:
-GIGANTIC stimulus for hypertrophy
-Beyond hypertrophy, EQIs are also amazing for strength and mobility
-Only needs to be performed 1-2 times at most for full effects
-Blends boundaries between mechanical tension, muscle damage, and metabolic stress
-Loaded stretching seems to be a driver of hypertrophy independent of the traditional mechanisms listed above
-Low spacial and temporal footprint
DRAWBACKS OF THE TECHNIQUE:
-Massive hit to neuromuscular recovery
-High risk of injury due to the extreme stretch and total TUT
-Limited availability of muscle groups and exercises
-Only applicable to advanced athletes and even then, contraindicated in many instances
-Hard to track progression